Swimmer Hector Pardoe Withdraws From Olympic Race After Gruesome Eye Injury

British swimmer Hector Pardoe withdrew from the 10-kilometer marathon swimming race at the Tokyo Olympics after suffering an injury that made him think he had lost his eye.

By Corinne Heller Aug 05, 2021 7:53 PMTags
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A horrific and bloody eye injury sank British swimmer Hector Pardoe's dream of winning his first Olympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

(Warning: Graphic images below)

On Thursday, Aug. 5, the 20-year-old athlete got elbowed in the face in the closing lap of the 10-kilometer marathon swimming race, his first Olympic event. Pardoe suffered a cut and lost his goggles, which forced him to withdraw. Pardoe told the BBC that his eye "was bleeding everywhere."

"I thought I'd lost the eye," Pardoe said in the on-camera interview, keeping a towel pressed against his right eye. "My goggles came off completely. I always think whenever I was going to get an injury, I'd be able to finish the race, but my goggles fell off and I couldn't even get them. I couldn't see anything. I thought my eye had fallen out in the water. I was going up to the lifeguards, saying, 'My eye, my eye! Is it OK?' They weren't giving me a very decisive opinion and I had to get out after that." 

2020 Tokyo Olympics Candid Photos

The athlete was treated by medics at the Olympic village and later shared on his Instagram Story a photo of himself with a bandage, as well as a close-up pic of his injury. "Elbow to the eye at 8K. Goggles snapped off and sunk," he wrote. "Still smiling though."

Instagram / Hector Pardoe

Even before the injury, Pardoe began to struggle in the open water race with the temperatures in Tokyo Bay reportedly surpassing 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Instagram / Hector Pardoe

"I started really fast from the front, really warm conditions I'm not used to. Never really done a race in such hot waters," Pardoe told the BBC. "Started to panic when I was behind. Could see that any chance of [ranking] top five, top six was over. I was just trying to secure as much as I could and get the top 10 finish. I think I managed to do well to catch to keep up, I was feeling OK. I got into it a bit and then in the last lap, took an elbow to the face."

Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

He also told the BBC that "anybody who says that open water swimming is not a contact sport, it is. You can only really see what happens on the surface of the race, but under, there's so many kicks and scratches. It's brutal."

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